You know, from this angle she really does look like her dad.
Usually when Former Landlord asks me to babysit, I limp out of it with some excuse that is either true or sort of true. There really isn't a good time to go nose to snot-crusted nose with a wild eyed demon toddler and that is exactly what she is. You would be more surprised if her head didn't do a 360 on her neck, gallons of something resembling chunky Tahitian Treat gushing from her face like the most powerful of lawn sprinklers.
Dear, dear Em.
Historically, if I set foot near the little monster she weeps like I locked her in a room and made her watch "Beaches." I believe that children have freaky supernatural senses. That her tears have something to do with cigarette burns on my soul. Or the time when I was 23 and jumped on a small stage in a bar in St. Paul on New Years Day, sang "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac backed by a reluctant organist, then flashed the room for no reason I can think of, except that "Girls Gone Wild" was getting popular and the vision of naughty coeds had lodged in my brain as a Bad Idea, yet got carried by a current of Tequila over to the Good Idea territory.
Em sees all of that. I really believe it.
Or maybe she just doesn't like me. That happens. In fact, today I was driving along and a car was coming toward me in the opposite lane. From more than a block away I could see a stump-like figure jutting past the top of the steering wheel. When I got closer, I realized the driver was just giving me the finger -- super hard and for a super long time for no real reason. Huh.
About quarterly I'll try again with Em. See if anything has shifted. If her forked tongue has grown together and the scales have been exfoliated from her skin. I do this with mushrooms, too. You are allowed to not like something. But a responsible adult owes it to the planet to occasionally re-evaluate. Mushrooms, for the record, still taste like the dankest corner of the grossest basement.
My Former Landlord had errands to run, so I agreed to watch Cujo for an hour. I knew it was going to be rough. Luckily, I think her cry face is hilarious. And I planned to tell her as much.
So much for that plan. I was greeted at the front door by Miss Congeniality. All gap-toothed grin and wild hair, dizzy over today's episode of Dora. Dare I say, even friendly? It had to be a ruse.
She led me to the kitchen, where we removed thick slabs of duct tape that were holding one of the two refrigerator's shut and performed a yogurt raid. She wasn't even trying to be hilarious when she got it into the hair on the back of her head and slathered it on her legs like lotion. When I got a cloth to wash her face, she skirted away from me and dove head first into a mound of blankets. The joke was on her: When she emerged, she was clean.
I got her to clean the yogurt splatters that were Pollack'ed into the carpeting and throw away the empty container, sat back satisfied and thought: Huh. I'm good at tricking little kids.
I let her perform all sorts of dangerous gymnastics including the word "BLASTOFF!" and face plants into the couch. Then I let her remove the plastic bag from a garbage can and wear that can as a failed hat. We would've gone outside, but I'm not sure the mangy being has shoes.
An hour later her dad returned. By then Em had taught me to say "seven" in Spanish ("siete"), though out of context. I took my umbrella from the umbrella stand and flew home.